Miss Fit founder Nikki Hesford talks to Lingerie Insight about the need for intimate apparel brands to provide bigger cups and smaller bands.
I came into the industry in 2008 after identifying a demand for clothing for larger cup sized women; I was amazed that despite statistics suggesting over 60 percent of the UK are over a D cup, the high street was making all of its clothing on an arbitrary assumption that everyone was a 34B. This problem doesn’t confine itself to the clothing market, though, as I was to discover soon after my business was up and running, as hoards of grateful women who had purchased our shirts and dresses asked us, “when will you start making lingerie as well?”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know very much about lingerie or what brands already catered these women, so I started looking in the obvious places that sprung to mind when I thought of buying a bra – La Senza, M&S, Agent Provocateur, Ann Summers, Debenhams. And, yes, I did find lots of bras that went over a D cup… in 32-38D-G, with black, white or nude colour-ways.
Even with my novice understanding of lingerie, there didn’t seem to be much choice on the face of it. Thankfully, further investigation revealed that there were some wonderful brands specialising in far bigger cups, such as Panache and Curvy Kate. However, I could count them on one hand. And, whilst more DD+ brands have emerged since then, the large cup segment of the lingerie industry is still lacking in so many ways. Firstly, with the exception of a handful of established companies that dominate, most of the emerging DD+ brands I come into contact with just don’t have the financial backing to have much impetus – starting a lingerie brand, sampling, grading and going into production is an expensive business and without the support of the retailers willing to stock their brand, and pay them a deposit upfront to fund their production, they barely get a chance to leave the starting blocks. Secondly, so many of the DD+ retailers out there concentrate on taking a large cut of the large pie, which means focusing on 32-38D-G cups and dismissing the trickier size grades, primarily sub-30” back and anything over a G cup. At present, there are probably less than five brands to my knowledge who can offer both a 28” back and a bra over a G cup, and only one I can recall who offer 26” back – albeit custom made and non-returnable.
Although the primary purpose of being in business is to make a profit, these more obscure sizes shouldn’t be ignored – there is a growing market for smaller backed, larger busted women for three reasons. 1) Naturally, women are evolving to be bigger busted with each generation, 2) the affordability of cosmetic surgery has meant boob jobs are no longer just for the rich and famous and 3) mostly importantly, accurate bra fitters has progressed significantly with three, four, five inches no longer being accepted as the norm to be added into an under-bust measurement. As a result, thousands of women who have worn a 34C all their life are now being re-fitted and realising they are actually a 30E or similar. And, as bra fitting continues to become more sophisticated, I predict we will see far more women emerge who want a smaller band size on their bra. But, as yet, few options exist for them when they do.”